Blinding (masking): in an experimental study, refers to whether patients, clinicians providing an intervention, people assessing outcomes, and/or data analysts were aware or unaware of the group to which patients were assigned. In the methods section of Evidence-Based Nursing abstracts of treatment studies, the study is identified as blinded, with specification of who was blinded; unblinded, if all parties were aware of patients’ group assignments; or unclear if the authors did not report or provide us with an indication of who was aware or unaware of patients’ group assignments.
Concealment of randomisation: concealment of randomisation is specified in the methods section of Evidence-Based Nursing abstracts of treatment studies as follows: allocation concealed (deemed to have taken adequate measures to conceal allocation to study group assignments from those responsible for assessing patients for entry in the trial [ie, central randomisation; sequentially numbered, opaque, sealed envelopes; sealed envelopes from a closed bag; numbered or coded bottles or containers; drugs prepared by the pharmacy; or other descriptions that contain elements convincing of concealment]); allocation not concealed (deemed to have not taken adequate measures to conceal allocation to study group assignments from those responsible for assessing patients for entry in the trial [ie, no concealment procedure was undertaken, sealed envelopes that were not opaque or were not sequentially numbered, or other descriptions that contained elements not convincing of concealment]); unclear allocation concealment (the authors did not report or provide a description of an allocation concealment approach that allowed for the classification as concealed or not concealed).
Confidence interval (CI): quantifies the uncertainty in measurement; usually reported as 95% CI, which is the range of values within which we can be 95% sure that the true value for the whole population lies.
Fixed-effects model1: gives a summary estimate of the magnitude of effect in meta-analysis. It takes into account within-study variation but not between-study variation and hence is usually not used if there is significant heterogeneity.
Inception cohort: a defined, representative sample of patients is assembled for a study at a common (ideally early) point in their disease or condition and followed up over time.
Hazard ratio2: the weighted relative risk over the entire study period; often reported in the context of survival analysis
Heterogeneity1: the degree to which the effect estimates of individual studies in a meta-analysis differ significantly.
Intention-to-treat analysis (ITT): all patients are analysed in the groups to which they were randomised, even if they failed to complete the intervention or received the wrong intervention.
Number needed to harm (NNH)3: number of patients who, if they received the experimental treatment, would lead to 1 additional person being harmed compared with patients who receive the control treatment; this is calculated as 1/absolute risk increase (rounded to the next whole number), accompanied by the 95% confidence interval.
Number needed to treat (NNT): number of patients who need to be treated to prevent 1 additional negative event (or to promote 1 additional positive event); this is calculated as 1/absolute risk reduction (rounded to the next whole number), accompanied by the 95% confidence interval.
Participatory action research: action oriented research in which the researchers and participants are partners in developing the question, intervention, and evaluation.
Power4: the ability of a study to detect an actual effect or difference between groups; it has to do with the adequacy of sample size. Before a study begins, researchers often calculate the number of participants required to detect a difference between 2 groups. If a study has insufficient power (ie, sample size is too small), actual differences between groups may not be detected.
Random-effects model1: gives a summary estimate of the magnitude of effect in meta-analysis. It takes into account both within-study and between-study variance and gives a wider confidence interval to the estimate than a fixed-effects model if there is significant between-study variation.
Relative benefit increase (RBI): the proportional increase in the rates of good events between experimental and control participants; it is reported as a percentage (%).
Relative risk (RR): proportion of patients experiencing an outcome in the treated (or exposed) group divided by the proportion experiencing the outcome in the control (or unexposed) group.
Relative risk increase (RRI): the proportional increase in bad outcomes between experimental and control participants; it is reported as a percentage (%).
Relative risk reduction (RRR): the proportional reduction in bad outcomes between experimental and control participants; it is reported as a percentage (%).
Weighted mean difference1: in a meta-analysis, used to combine outcomes measured on continuous scales (eg, height), assuming that all trials measured the outcome on the same scale; the mean, standard deviation and sample size of each group are known, and weight given to each trial is determined by the precision of its estimate of effect.